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Crude Oil Struggles for Direction as Libya Production, Trade Weighs

Oil prices fell on Thursday. - U.S. crude oil prices struggled for direction on Thursday, as Libya lifted its force majeure on four oil ports and trade tensions weighed.

West Texas Crude oil futures fell 0.71% to $69.89 a barrel as of 10:42 AM ET (14:42 GMT). Meanwhile Brent crude futures, the benchmark for oil prices outside the U.S., rose 0.41% to $73.70.

Prices were held back by news on Thursday that Libya lifted a force majeure on four oil ports and indicated production would return to normal levels.

Meanwhile global crude production capacity could be “stretched to the limit,” the International Energy Agency said in its latest forecast on Thursday.

The Paris-based organization said in its monthly report that there was “no sign of higher production from elsewhere that might ease fears of market tightness.”

Crude output from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and Russia, rose to a four-month high in June, up 180,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 31.87 million bpd, the IEA said.

OPEC agreed in June to raise output at a nominal increase of 1 million barrels a day (bpd) amid pressure from the U.S. to decrease prices. While OPEC members are expected to add around 700,000 barrels a day, non-OPEC oil suppliers led by Russia would add the rest.

Trade tensions also weighed on oil, as U.S. President Donald Trump threatened this week to impose tariffs on additional $200 billion in Chinese goods. Trump visits the UK on Thursday after ending a two-day NATO summit where he urged members to increase their commitment targets.

In other energy trading, gasoline futures decreased 0.17% at $2.0709 a gallon, while heating oil rose 0.31% to $2.1074 a gallon. Natural gas futures were down 0.64% to $2.811 per million British thermal units.

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